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Grants and In-Kind Support to North Carolina Early-Stage
Companies to Promote Startup Development


Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

08/30/21 5:00 PM EST


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Grants of $50,000 and in-kind support to North Carolina early-stage businesses for startup funding. Applicants must submit a pre-proposal prior to submitting a full proposal. The program, in addition to funding, supports business activities through mentorship, introductions, and programming.

NC IDEA's grants are intended to help startup ventures overcome the often high barriers encountered by funding gaps. SEED offers early stage companies the critical funding they need to scale faster.

NC IDEA SEED awards funding to innovative startups to support business activities that reduce risk associated with early stage companies and help companies grow and scale. Grant recipients work with NC IDEA to implement a timeline with impactful use of funds and meaningful milestones. Grants are awarded to innovative startups with a proven concept — even if they are not yet profitable.

Some examples of uses of funds from past grant recipients include customer discovery activities, website/application development, prototype development, A/B testing services, marketing services, legal services (including intellectual property related costs), business development expenses (including travel and trade show attendance), consultant fees and staff salaries. NC IDEA considers the impact of the total proposed use of funds, including how it will support a company to achieve the outlined milestones during the grant period and move a company to the next phase of its growth.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 145633

Number of Grants:


Estimated Size of Grant:

NC IDEA SEED provides $50,000 in non-dilutive funding to selected companies.

Term of Contract:

Grant funds are typically released over the span of 6-12 months in separate milestone-based tranches.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

NC IDEA SEED grants are specifically targeted at companies headquartered in and that conduct a majority of corporate operations in the State of North Carolina. All publicly facing materials, including website, social media, and other marketing materials and channels should identify the business as a North Carolina company. Selected companies must agree to maintain the majority of corporate operations in the State of North Carolina for at least the 12-month period following completion of the grant.

Industry and Company Type:
NC IDEA SEED grants are awarded to innovative companies with proprietary intellectual property or other means of sustained competitive advantage that are solving large problems.

Market Opportunity:
NC IDEA SEED grants are awarded to companies addressing large, rapidly growing market opportunities, with a unique value proposition, and on a path to become a multi-million dollar company, have 50+ employees or be investable in 3-5 years.

Stage of Development:
Companies have demonstrated proof of concept (existence of a problem, market readiness and an MVP) and are prepared to leverage a $50K grant to scale the business.

Competitive applicants must have at least one full-time founder. NC IDEA defines a full-time founder as one who works 40+ hours a week on their startup and does not have regular employment at another company, including a different startup run by the founder, more than 15 hours a week. Experience working in or on a previous startup, as well as domain expertise, is favorable as well – but not required.

Companies that have revenue in the last 12 months of more than $250K are less likely to be considered.

Prior Investment:
NC IDEA's funding is intended to help early stage companies accomplish specific milestones that demonstrate to investors and other funding sources that the company has high growth potential. Therefore, companies that have received greater than $250K in equity investment or over $1M in non-dilutive grant funding at the time of applying are less likely to be considered. NC IDEA does, however, consider founder and “friends and family” funding differently, and such funding will not negatively impact consideration.

Companies do not have to be incorporated to apply for a MICRO or SEED grant. However, if a company is awarded a MICRO or SEED grant, the company must be incorporated prior to receiving any grant funds. An LLC is considered incorporated.

Companies with high capital requirements and a long runway to commercialization, such as pharmaceutical companies, are not eligible. Other companies that are considered out of scope and not eligible for grant funding include consulting practices or agencies; training companies; distributors; franchises; resellers; local, service-oriented small businesses (i.e. restaurants, retail stores) and other “lifestyle” companies; and not-for-profits.

Pre-proposal Conference:

NC IDEA Fall 2021 Grants Information Sessions

- Mon, Jul 26, 2021 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM: Info Session via Webinar
Register here:

- Tue, Aug 3, 2021 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM: Research Triangle Info Session
Register here:
Venue Details:
Frontier RTP
800 Park Offices Drive
Durham, North Carolina, 27703

- Wed, Aug 4, 2021 5:30 PM - 6:30 PM: Winston-Salem Info Session
Register here:
Venue Details:
Flywheel Coworking
500 West 5th Street, Suite 800
Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 27101

Pre-Application Information:

Fall 2021 Dates and Deadlines:
- July 26: Info Session via Webinar
- August 2-27: Fall 2021 Virtual Office Hours (Sign up here:
- August 2: NC IDEA SEED Grant Application Opens
- August 3: Research Triangle Info Session
- August 4: Winston-Salem Info Session
- August 30: NC IDEA SEED Grant Application Deadline
*All applications must be submitted and received by 5:00 pm EST – No Exceptions*
- September 24: NC IDEA SEED Semi-Finalists Selected and Notified
- October 4: NC IDEA SEED Semi-Finalist Revised Application Deadline
- October 22: NC IDEA SEED Finalists Selected and Notified
- October 28 – November 3: NC IDEA SEED Finalist Pitch Scrub Sessions
- November 5: NC IDEA SEED Finalist Pitches
- November 10: NC IDEA SEED Grant Recipients Selected and Notified

Application Process:
NC IDEA solicits SEED grant applications twice per year, usually in mid-February and mid-August. NC IDEA typically receives 150-180 applications each grant cycle. Applications are reviewed by the NC IDEA team, investors and other partners in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Companies are notified of their status and receive specific feedback on their application. From each applicant pool, approximately 20-30 companies are selected to progress to the semi-finalist phase. Semi-finalists are given a week to 10 days to complete a “full proposal” allowing them to elaborate on information provided in their original grant application and incorporate feedback from the reviewers. Each semi-finalist also schedules a 15-minute phone interview with NC IDEA. Approximately 10-12 semi-finalists progress to the finalist phase and are invited to pitch. Each company gives a 10-minute in-person pitch followed by 15 minutes of Q&A. Ultimately, 5-7 companies are selected and awarded an NC IDEA SEED grant.

A company can only submit one grant application per grant cycle. This application can either be for MICRO OR SEED—but not both. However, a company can apply to a different grant in a future cycle.

Eligibility Criteria:


Program Page:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Online Application Portal:

320 Blackwell Street, Suite 400
Durham, NC 27701

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: North Carolina

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